I haven't read much of Fumi Yoshinaga's manga. I think her BL manga features too manyやさ男 and they generally don't look happy (at least on covers). But Ooku(大奥) was highly recommended on the "Kono Manga ga Sugoi" (この漫画がすごい) book, so I decided to pick up the two volumes that were out.
Oh my gosh, it's so good!
The story takes place in Edo Period Japan, when a mysterious disease wipes out a big chunk of the male population & only 1 in 4 boys survive into adulthood. Because of that, all families, including the shogunate, follow a female blood line.
So the story starts out with a young man named Yuunoshin who goes to work at the ooku, a special section of the shogun castle where women are forbidden to enter & all of the men work for the shogun.
1/3 into the first volume, the 8th shogun Yoshimune (the main character of the first volume) finally appears. She's very manly (?) and her relationship with Yuunoshin, albeit a short one, and how she deals with it is awesome!
Fumi Yoshinaga mentions in her interview that she plans Ooku to be 10 volumes, and she's drawing one volume worth each year. Gah! Another manga I have to patiently wait for.
But I highly recommend this one.
It might be a bit hard for a US company to pick up this one, since it's going to take a long time to finish in Japan. So you might want to pick up the Japanese version & make do with online synopses for now.
Author: Fumi Yoshinaga
Volumes: 3 (on going)
Even though this manga sounds like a woman's fantasy of a male-harlem, it's more than that, and should be enjoyable by men as well. In fact, my boss K really liked the manga. It weaves in historical events, so those who are into Japanese history might enjoy this.
If this were to be picked up, it should be handled by a US publisher with a 10 year plan. With the current state of the anime & manga industry, it's very likely many companies will not survive that long (at least as they are now), so I do hope that Hakusensha doesn't license this title on a whim.
(01.20.08 synopsis slowly being worked on)
I had ordered the second volume of Koi no Tamago (恋のたまご), because I bought the first volume in Japan when I went there in March for Tokyo Animation Fair. I didn't know about the series, but picked it up because it's by Satoru Makimura, the manga artist of Imagine & Oishii Kankei (おいしい関係).
There's a rule of thumb for Japanese manga retailers. Female readers follow manga artists, so it's always a good idea to display popular or famous series by the author to promote the new one. Not that male readers don't follow manga artists, but they tend to choose by the series in the same magazine.
Of course the latter doesn't work for the US, since there aren't enough magazines for people to choose from. Let alone be able to publish the same genre in the same magazine.
Printing magazines are costly, so it's the US manga industry's homework to figure out a way to introduce new manga to the readers.
Anyway, back to Koi no Tamago. It's a story about a 30-year old OL named Mako who has settled in the comfort of her easy and modestly-paid job & her co-worker boyfriend. But one day she ends up without a boyfriend (she finds out that he was seeing another girl at the same time) and a job (she rejects a transfer to a branch in the countryside). She meets a construction worker named Mat-chan, follows him to a cafe & decides to work at the cafe as a part-time staff.
So in Koi no Tamago vol 2, Mako doesn't feel like she's dating Mat-chan & realizes that she doesn't know much about him either. After Tomo-chan points out that Mako doesn't want to get hurt, her relationship with Mat-chan improves.
Mako is helping an artist named Bun-chan set up for her doll gallery at the cafe, when an energetic young woman named Sakura walks into the cafe. Sakura is a student photographer who went to Germany to study. Mako finds out from the cafe manager that Mat-chan and Sakura used to date before she went to Germany.
Mako gets jealous over how Mat-chan and Sakura interact, and Mat-chan asks her if she can't trust him. But Mako overhears Sakura telling Mat-chan that she still likes him.
While Mako has Sakura on her mind, the cafe manager falls ill. He asks Mako to take over the cafe while he recovers for 2 months. Mako reluctantly agrees to take over.
Like Imagine, Satoru Makimura's recent manga have themes about women finding themselves through work & love. They realize they're unhappy living their lives in the "flow of things." At work, they quietly get their job done without creating friction between bosses or co-workers. With relationships, they've accepted getting married (if he only proposes!) to the nice co-worker they've been dating for a few years.
In a way, it's a fantasy we all have about leaving the boring work or romance & finding something new and exciting to do.
This isn't shoujo manga, so it's more like josei manga? Although you don't hear the term josei manga too often, so it doesn't stick to me.
Koi no Tamago
Author: Satoru Makimura
Volumes: 1-4 (complete)
Likelihood of Company B to license: 0
At least nothing like this yet. When the teenage girls reading Fruits Basket turn 30 (in 12-15 years), then the time would be right to release josei manga. I wonder if I'd still be in this business in 15 years from now?